If you are in need of a one-of-a-kind Easter dessert, here you go. Carrot cake is classic Easter, or at least Spring dessert. At least that is how I envision its perfect placement. Not that I actually follow my own thought line. I almost never make carrot cake for easter. I usually find something that seems way more exciting, or at least peaks my interest a little more than boring ol’ carrot cake. Now, my question for you is, are you a die-hard traditional carrot caker? Or do you find a remodeled version to be acceptable? I didn’t grow up eating carrot cake, so I don’t really have a preference. Probably because I thought that carrots in cake was gross. (Typical picky me.) Little did I know how much I was missing out.
This particular cake is filled with crushed pineapple, unsweetened coconut flakes, and shredded carrots, which makes an incredibly moist (yes, I am using that dreaded word that seems to make so many people shudder) cake. Because every cake deserves a killer topping, this frosting is filled with creamy, tangy cream cheese and homemade salted caramel. Once combined, a creamy, irresistible frosting is created that is incredibly difficult to keep your finger out of. I could also see this frosting being superb smeared over chocolate cake. I am just going to put that out there…
This cake works well for any last minute easter planning, and the 9×13-inch pan will feed a decent size crowd. If you’re attending or hosting a more intimate gathering, you can cut the recipe in half and use an 8×8-inch pan instead. This cake can also be made a day in advance if desired. Just a heads up, your cake may sink in the middle when it cools, but don’t worry about a thing. Just smear more frosting over the top and no one will notice the difference. Wink wink.
For the cake
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
For the frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce, store bought or homemade (made with 3/4 teaspoon salt)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, making sure to have an overhang. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar. Then stir in the eggs, vanilla extract, pineapple, carrots and coconut until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
- To make the frosting, place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, mix in the caramel sauce and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the confectioners’ sugar on low speed. Once the sugar has combined, increase the speed to high and beat until creamy, about 4 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Slice and serve the cake, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.
* You can cut this recipe in half and use an 8x8-inch pan. Check the cake around 30 minutes of cooking, to be sure you don’t over bake the cake.